My company has a strict nepotism policy. We won’t allow anyone to work in the same department as a spouse or relative. I have been interviewing candidates for an administrative position and one of my two finalists is divorced from another manager who works in the same department as me. I know they are divorced because my fellow manager came and told me. He said he assumed his ex had not revealed their relationship and he wanted me to know so I could rule her out under our policy. I checked with the H.R. Director. She said ex-spouses are not covered by the nepotism policy, so I can hire whichever of my finalists is best qualified. My fellow manager says H.R. is wrong and also says his ex will cause trouble if she works here. Do you think I should take the easy way out and hire the other candidate? Even if it does not violate our policy, I don’t want a lot of tension with my fellow manager.
— Risk Avoider
Dear Risk Avoider:
If you don’t want tension, get out of supervision. I have a feeling you might not be equipped to handle supervision if you can’t deal with your manipulative peer.
Your H.R. Director told you to hire the most qualified candidate. Grow a back bone and hire that person, even if it is the ex. If your fellow manager throws a fit, tell him to re-marry his ex before her hire date and then she will be disqualified. Either that or get him fired for misusing the nepotism policy – then there’s no more nepotism problem at all.
— Evil Skippy
You did not say where your job is located, but many jurisdictions prohibit discrimination based on marital status. That means you might be looking at a legal claim if you reject your candidate solely because of the divorce. (Since the candidate is divorced from your peer, from a legal standpoint she has no relationship to him and should not be covered by a nepotism policy – but your H.R. Director already told you that, right?).
You should do the following:
- Tell your boss and Human Resources Director about the pressure from your fellow manager.
- Ask your boss to review your decision as a “reality check” to confirm that you selected the most qualified person and were not swayed by marital status issues.
- Document the reasons for hiring the person you eventually hire just in case you later have to prove what the real reasons were.
- Seal your fellow manager’s mouth with duct tape so he stops saying stupid stuff.